What Influence has the BBC had on History?

Founded as the British Broadcasting Company in October 1922, the BBC has sought to ‘inform, educate and entertain’ for a century. Facing an uncertain future, what impact has it had on the past?

Venu Chitale, photographed in the 1940s. She began her career as secretary to George Orwell, and later became a prominent broadcaster. Wiki Commons.

‘The BBC has always done far more than reflect the contemporary’

David Hendy, Author of The BBC: A People’s History (Profile, 2022)

To write the history of the BBC, Asa Briggs once said, is ‘to write the history of everything else’. The relationship, he suggested, is more than one of background and foreground. Radio and television are like corridors through which the whole of life passes. If we’ve witnessed the dramas of history – wars, natural disasters, sporting spectacles – it’s generally been through the media. Yet the BBC has always done far more than reflect the contemporary. Since 1922 it’s been one of the most influential forces shaping it.  

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